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How to have an allergy-free Halloween

Happy autumn, everyone! The air is crisp, the leaves are turning, and pumpkins abound. Many families celebrate Halloween and I wanted to dedicate this blog entry to our patients who have food allergies or restrictions. A few years ago, Dr. Taft and I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to speak at the Cured Foundation conference. There we met with families who have children with with Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) or Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorders (EGIDs), and saw some of the most severe food allergies we have ever seen. Although you may not know children with as severe of food allergies as those diagnoses, there are currently 15 million Americans dealing with food allergies. Our friends over at Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) have a wonderful idea for families who celebrate Halloween that I wanted to share.


What it is:
Their project is called the Teal Pumpkin Project. The basic idea of this initiative is to have houses provide non-edible treats for those trick-or-treaters who may have illnesses such as food allergies, diabetes. Houses who choose to do this are encouraged to put out a Teal Pumpkin sign or paint a pumpkin teal, in order to show they are doing this. While most families hand out treats that contain peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, milk ingredients, and gluten, a teal pumpkin is a symbol to show that there are alternatives available that are non-edible.

What could I hand out instead of candy?
 FARE suggests glow bracelets or necklaces, pencils, markers, boxes of crayons, erasers, bubbles, mini Slinkies, whistles or noisemakers, bouncy balls, coins, spider rings, vampire teeth, mini notepads, playing cards, bookmarks, stickers, play-dough, and stencils. You can purchase these items inexpensively at dollar stores, or online at Amazon and Oriental Trading. The best part is that they’ll easily keep until next Halloween if you have extras, so there’s no waste — unlike those mini candy bars that go stale.

FARE is also offering a free printable poster that you can stick in your window — or right on your front door — to make sure trick-or-treaters and their parents understand you have non-food treats available. Some people may feel comfortable offering both edible and non-edible treats, which is fine, as long as they are kept seperate so that there isn't contamination. Let us know what you end up getting and how it goes!

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